The Facts About Brain Injuries

The facts about brain injuries from the Brain Injury Association of America

Of the 1.4 million who sustain a TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) each year in the United States:

  • 50,000 die
  • 235,000 are hospitalized
  • 1.1 million are treated and released from an emergency department

What causes TBI?

The leading causes of TBI are:

  • Falls (28%)
  • Motor vehicle-traffic crashes (20%)
  • Struck by/against (19%)
  • Assaults (11%)1

Blasts are a leading cause of TBI for active duty military personnel in war zones.  At least 2 out of 5 coming back from Afghanistan and Iraq come home with a TBI.

The national statistics point to the fact that two out of every five soldiers coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan bring a traumatic brain injury with them.  Now, because of efficient and modern body armor, we have more soldiers coming home alive rather than in body bags.  For that, we are grateful, however many of our soldiers’ brains have sustained permanent brain injury.

There is not only a need to adequately diagnose these brave soldiers’ brains; there is a significant need for sufficient and accurate treatment for their cognitive abilities.  The families of our military soldiers need comfort and support to truly understand the scope of traumatic brain injury.

Our non-profit organization is committed to advancing research, recovery and residential care for our brave warriors who have fought hard to preserve our freedom.  God bless our soldiers and may God bless America!

Who is at highest risk for TBI?

  • Males are about 1.5 times as likely as females to sustain a TBI1
  • The two age groups at highest risk for TBI are 0 to 4 year olds and 15 to 19 year olds1
  • Certain military duties (e.g., paratrooper) increase the risk of sustaining a TBI3
  • African Americans have the highest death rate from TBI1

What are the costs of TBI?

Direct medical costs and indirect costs such as lost productivity of TBI totaled an estimated $56.3 billion in the United States in 1995.4

What are the long-term consequences of TBI?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that at least 5.3 million Americans currently have a long-term or lifelong need for help to perform activities of daily living as a result of a TBI.

According to one study, about 40% of those hospitalized with a TBI had at least one unmet need for services one year after their injury. The most frequent unmet needs were:

  • Improving memory and problem solving
  • Managing stress and emotional upsets
  • Controlling one’s temper
  • Improving one’s job skills6

TBI can cause a wide range of functional changes affecting thinking, sensation, language, and/or emotions.  It can also cause epilepsy and increase the risk for conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and other brain disorders that become more prevalent with age.

References:

  1. Langlois JA, Rutland-Brown W, Thomas KE. Traumatic brain injury in the United States: emergency department visits, hospitalizations, and deaths. Atlanta (GA): Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control; 2004. Back To Article
  2. Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center (DVBIC). [unpublished]. Washington (DC): U.S. Department of Defense; 2005. Back To Article
  3. Ivins BJ, Schwab K, Warden D, Harvey S, Hoilien M, Powell J, et al. Traumatic brain injury in U.S. army paratroopers: prevalence and character. Journal of Trauma Injury, Infection and Critical Care 2003;55(4): 617-21. Back To Article
  4. Thurman D. The epidemiology and economics of head trauma. In: Miller L, Hayes R, editors. Head trauma: basic, preclinical, and clinical directions. New York (NY): Wiley and Sons; 2001. Back To Article
  5. Thurman D, Alverson C, Dunn K, Guerrero J, Sniezek J. Traumatic brain injury in the United States: a public health perspective. Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation 1999;14(6):602-15. Back To Article
  6. Corrigan JD, Whiteneck G, Mellick D. Perceived needs following traumatic brain injury. Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation 2004;19(3):205-16. Back To Article
  7. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Traumatic brain injury: hope through research. Bethesda (MD): National Institutes of Health; 2002 Feb. NIH Publication No. 02-158. Available from: www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/tbi/detail_tbi.htm. Back To Article

3 Comments

  1. Just yesterday as I was working on this web site, I received a call from Carol McCurdy in Plano, Texas. She is now working for the Clements Clinic, a clinic that resources brain disorders. She told me her story involving traumatic brain injury. In 2002, she was in a hardware store in Plano and when she reached to straighten a rug to reveal some merchandise, a piece of steel shelving came loose from above her head and came crashing down on her head. She was rushed to the hospital and given an MRI scan that showed no real damage anotomically to her brain. The hospital kept her for a few short hours and then sent her home with no instuctions regarding her injury. She could not remain awake and even fell asleep as she got up to use the restroom. She slept for the next four days. Her family seemed to think that it was good for her to “sleep it off.” Her mental ability was immediately diminished. She was forgetful, unable to focus, had a difficult time reading or writing and generally was not herself. The first psychiatrist that she visited gave her enough medications just to slow her down and she felt drugged. She felt the necessity to push herself to relearn life skills and try to satisfy her desire for education. Carol is now under the care of a neurologist and has been told that she must tell people, “I just can not do that…I have a head injury.” She has renewed hope that she is coming back and she feels the improvement level rise. She is now driving again and looking to be admitted into a PhD program in psychology with the focus on traumatic brain injury. One day, she will write her story in detail, but at the moment feels overwhelmed with scheduling and can not see doing it. Carol’s brain injury is one of the thousands that are treated like a minor concussion where the patient is sent home to heal without real therapy or accurate diagnosis.

  2. Sue I have done a lot of reasearch on this and would love 15 minutes of your time to provide you with a binder of information and resources that I have from doctors and state officals.

  3. Thanks, Laura…please call me and let’s talk. I am always interested in more information regarding brain injury.

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